The 2019 IMSA at Laguna Seca Live Blog09/15/2019
1:24 remaining: Acura #7 goes off into the sand after coming out a bit too close to an LMP2 car on that car’s out lap. Helio Castroneves rejoins in what will cycle out to second.
Jeroen Bleekemolen was assessed a drive-through penalty for the prior incident in GTD.
1:25 remaining: The #96 Turner BMW spins after some light contact with the #33 Riley Motorspors Mercedes, and seems to rejoin without damage. Those cars were running in the top five in GTD.
1:27 remaining: The DPi pit window begins again, this time led by the #5 Action Express car rather than the #31.
1:49 remaining: BMW #24 finally stops and also comes out behind the #66 Ford. Both trail the #3 Corvette, which is on an exceedingly aggressive strategy that will require significant fuel saving over its last two stints. The #4 Corvette, on the same strategy, runs third.
Acura #6 now leads overall after Dane Cameron moves past Ricky Taylor in a very orderly, well-orchestrated battle of Team Penske Acuras.
1:51 remaining: Tom Blomqvist brings in the #25 BMW five laps later, something that could end up being significant. The #24 will stay out even longer.
BMW #25 comes out four seconds behind the #66 Ford.
1:56 remaining: Dirk Mueller makes the #66 Ford GT the first GTLM leader to pit. the #24 BMW again inherits the lead of that class.
2:00 remaining: The #67 Ford GT spins on its own from fifth in GTLM. From the look of it, Ryan Briscoe simply got back on the throttle too quickly exiting the track’s final corner. The car resumes with no damage, but Briscoe pits for a driver and tire change.
2:05 remaining: Just a few laps later, the rest of the DPi field follows. Once the #77 Mazda, which is staying out a few extra laps, stops, the two Acuras will cycle out into the lead, in the same order they’ve been running since the start of the race.
2:08 remaining: The #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi stops early, from eighth on track. That’s a fast car that lost track position as a direct result of chaos during the start of the race, so this is likely an attempt to regain track position by any means necessary.
2:20 remaining: The #24 BMW falls to second in GTLM, losing that position to the #66 Ford GT. That car had some sort of issue exiting turn 2, slowing on corner exit and ceding not only the position but about four seconds on track. That’s something to watch over the course of the rest of the race, particularly with how fast the BMW M8s have been this weekend.
2:26 remaining: The #86 Acura NSX has fallen from second to fourth after Cooper MacNeil moves the #63 Scuderia Corse Ferrari into second into the first major corner on the track and the #9 PFAFF Porsche quickly follows. Those cars have lost some time on the class-leading #48 Lamborghini, which enjoys a comfortable cushion thanks in no small part to that Acura’s early struggles.
2:28 remaining: The lead overall is now fairly significant, with the #7 and #6 Penske Acuras now a full four seconds and most of the lapped GTD field ahead of the #10 of Jordan Taylor. The #55 and #77 Mazdas, the entries of the former title sponsor of this very track, seem to be struggling to keep up with the Cadillacs and Acuras in the early running.
2:34 remaining: The three major class pole sitters are all out to reasonable leads after about five laps, although the #63 Scuderia Corse Ferrari is putting fairly significant pressure on the #86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX for second in GTD. With a long train of cars equally interested in that pass happening following close behind, that’s the most competitive battle on the track.
2:39 remaining: Green flag. Jordan Taylor tries to get past #6 Acura for second overall, but relents before turn 1. The resulting chaos ends with the #31 Action Express Cadillac going off-track before the end of the corner, but the DPi field seems to have escaped without any significant damage.
2:40 remaining: With the now-traditional Petit Le Mans season finale just a few weeks away, today’s round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca marks a pivotal moment in every championship race in the series. This is, after all, the last non-endurance race of the season, the last chance to run hard for a win without having to worry about the consequences of a risky pass or a questionable fuel strategy four hours from now.
In DPi, the story of the weekend is a big balance-of-performance swing for the Cadillac entries, which come into this weekend both lighter and more powerful than when they last ran at Road America. This has already proven to be beneficial for leading Cadillac outfits Action Express Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing, who are showing competitive pace against the Mazda and Acura entries for the first time in in months. Every championship in that class is still up for grabs, and, in the IMSA points system, today is just as important as the upcoming ten-hour Petit Le Mans. Team Penske’s Acuras holds down the front row, followed by the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadilac, the #77 Joest Mazda, and the #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac.
GTLM will be led to the green by the #24 BMW, ahead of the #66 Ford and #25 BMW. Notably, the first Porsche, the #912, starts fourth, a tough spot for the manufacturer that leads the class championship in 1-2 fashion.
The GTD polesitter will be the #48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan, followed by the #86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX, the #63 Scuderia Corse Ferrari 488, the #9 PFAFF Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, the #96 Turner Motorsports BMW, and the #76 Compass Racing McLaren 720S. That’s six manufacturers in the top six positions.
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